As many long time readers know, I firmly believe in versatility in my tools. If I can carry a tool that performs more than one function - that doesn't require on-going and increasing levels of training - then I believe we get greater value out of that tool. Having reviewed a few other Brite-Strike products and having found them to perform well, I was happy to receive for testing and evaluation the Brite-Strike Duty Light Camera: a flashlight and video camera in a single unit.
Now, I'll admit up front: there is a learning curve with this Light/Camera and I'm not sure how well I could manipulate it under duress in compressed time frames. In other words, if I had it in my hand, using it as a light, and found myself under unexpected attack, would I think to even push the video activation button? If I wanted to and tried would I push the right button? Realistically speaking, probably not. However, that doesn't mean the video part isn't of high value. To my way of thinking, given the four gigabytes (an 8G memory option also exists) of video storage that are built into this unit allowing for six hours of video recording, it would be a simple matter of policy (personal or department) to activate the video camera upon exiting my patrol vehicle. If I don't need any of the video captured then it can be deleted. If I need parts and pieces, then having the whole video available as evidence only supports my case better.
So, some basic about this unit:
- Overall length: 7.5" / 200mm
- Head Diameter: 2" / 51mm
- Base Diameter: 1.8" / 48mm
- Weight with battery: 14 ounces
The features of the unit as published on the Brite-Strike Duty Light Camera web page:
- Aircraft grade aluminum construction with hard anodized finish
- Super bright state of the art LED with DC/DC power management
- High: Up to 200 lumens, Lo: Up to 80 lumens
- 2.5 hours of run time on high power setting / over 8+ hours on low
- 50,000+ hour LED life span
- Rechargeable Lithium Battery
- Integrated CMOS Color Video Camera, with audio
- Latest 3GP video format
- 4GB video storage capacity
- Approximately 6 hours of video record time
- Active array size: 640 x 480 pixels
- 58° viewing angle
- Downloads directly to your computer via USB cable (included)
- Independent video On/Off switch with video activation indicator light, audio may be deactivated
- 120 volt AC & 12 volt vehicle charger (included)
- Water Resistant and Shock Resistant
- 1 Year Limited Warranty
For those of us who are sometimes technologically challenged (like me), I was pleased to see that the Duty Light Camera came with clear instructions in how to set the date and time, charge and recharge the light/camera, copy video from the camera to my computer, etc. The light/camera was delivered with both an AC and a DC charger so I could charge it in my office or in my car (or your patrol vehicle).
I initially thought carrying it would prove to be a challenge because the barrel of the light's body is larger than industry standard (sometimes that "standard" is more perceived than cited and used - that's what I put it in italics). However, Brite-Strike makes a carrier for it - their Roto-Loc holster - and several other manufacturer's make utility/light/flare pouches that are of sufficient diameter to carry it.
Once I had charged it and set the date/time, I went out to see how easy it was to use. The answer is "very". Turning it on and off is as simple as any other light and switching between the lighting modes (High, Low & Strobe) is no more difficult than any other light I've tried out. In High mode the light produces (reportedly) about 200 lumens with about 2.5 hours of run time from a fully charged battery. Of course, if you use the light AND the camera, then the run time is reduced. While 2.5 hours may not seem like much in an eight, ten or twelve hour shift during the hours of darkness, it is actually a fair amount when you consider the length of the average traffic stop or false-alarm property check. Then, when you get back to your cruiser, you can charge it up again as necessary.